As this is December, the most final of months in the year, I'm doing a quick roundup of books I enjoyed in 2022. It just so happens I didn’t read much this year. Probably because I spent more time writing and editing, but also because I tended to DNF books more often than be swept away by them. A handful of books did grip my imagination and demand reading in one day, though, and all of those appear here.
So here we go!
The plot of Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace asks what unfinished business might make effectively a superhero unable to find peace and pass on. Wasp, a desperately lonely archivist of ghost behavior, is tasked with finding out what happened to the world long ago from any ghost that might talk to her, in addition to fighting upstarts each year who want to take her life and her place.
But she meets the dangerous, unnamed ghost of a supersoldier on the hunt for someone he has lost in the underworld. And he thinks Wasp can help.
In The Good Fortune of Bad Luck, Destiny Holt has laid out a plan for the trajectory of her life to take her out of a childhood of abandonment and poverty into a nursing degree, a nice home, and a family. She believes in making her own luck through the will to forge an escape from the fate that her impoverished birth would dictate.
By contrast, Dillon Konrad has kept his life in a holding pattern of waiting for the stars to align and bring him his soul mate, a job he likes, and lottery winnings, all based on a prophecy from his grandmother, who accurately predicted the death of his parents. He believes in letting fate make his decisions, trusting that openness to the will of the universe will bring him good fortune.
The Good Fortune of Bad Luck examines which of these two philosophies, if either, will prove true as Destiny's and Dillon's lives spin around—and inexorably toward—each other.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree is a cozy fantasy that explores the NPC side of adventure fantasy. The narrative follows Viv, a successful barbarian-class orc mercenary who dares to ask how life could be different if she hung up her sword and brought something new to the world. Deciding to open an obscure business known as a 'café,' Viv relies on a magical item of good luck to lead her to the perfect location for her shop and to bring exactly the right people into her life for success.
Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea winks at the contrast between the perception of agency within the main character of a video game and that of a novel. Bioshock, a 2007 first-person shooter, interrogates the same question of agency through the main character of a video game.
Introduction The narrative of The Tangled Lands, written by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell, follows the separate but intertwined stories of a handful of people living in or attempting to leave the Blue City, so named for the blue fires whose smoke detects those who have recently used magic. Choked with bramble and briar, … Continue reading Book Review: The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell
Introduction The Hatch by Michelle Saftich takes readers through a dystopian future in which humanity has begun colonizing other life-supporting planets, while the humans who remain on earth must survive the planet's harsh climate in tiny bunkers several levels below ground. EASA, a totalitarian government and spearhead of planetary exploration, utilizes all resources in the … Continue reading Book Review: The Hatch by Michelle Saftich
Introduction Throughout Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, Galaxy Stern fights to balance her background as a drug abuser and teen runaway, her lifelong gift (curse) of the ability to see ghosts, known as Grays, and her job working for a secret cultish organization entrenched within the high society of Yale University. Together with her distant … Continue reading Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Introduction Following the events of the first four Murderbot Diaries novellas, Network Effect by Martha Wells delivers a long-form adventure for our favorite anxious SecUnit. When its human clients get kidnapped by a familiar research transport and unfamiliar humanoids, Murderbot must fight to keep all the humans alive while trying to figure out a way … Continue reading Book Review: Network Effect by Martha Wells
In Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett, three years have passed since the events of Foundryside, the first installment in the Founders series. Long enough for Sancia Grado and the allies she made in Foundryside to plan and begin to execute a magical-industrial revolution, one that will make scriving, the sacred and secret art of bending reality to one's will, accessible to all.